Despite being an overcast day, the clouds cleared late afternoon and treated us to a spectacular Cornish sunset. The rest of the week featured plenty of different weathers, from glorious sunshine to driving rain.
The first four days there were constant blue skies ensuring fantastic views of the beautiful Alpine scenery, including the iconic Matterhorn. This was my second ski holiday in the Italian Alps and once again the pistes were quiet, the lift queues non-existent, the food delicious and the coffee excellent. The connection to Zermatt also provided a huge ski area and diversity of slopes.
When the weather was slightly less good, we also enjoyed warm and friendly mountain hospitality.
It has been almost six months since our visit to Wellington. After travelling through the beautiful vistas of the South Island it was great to finish our holiday with some hip cocktail bars and late night espresso.
The Lonely Planet guided us to a fantastic morning coffee stop en route from Motueka to Nelson, the Jester House Café. Despite being a popular tourist spot, the car park was not large and I was very glad we were the only camper van attempting to use it! In addition to three varieties of dairy-free cake they had excellent coffee and some impressively large native eels in the stream outside.
Our stop in Picton was only long enough to enjoy its relaxed ambience and take a short hike around the awesomely beautiful harbour. Our early morning sail out of the harbour was also blessed with fine weather and the crossing to Wellington allowed for some more fine views.
We had a fantastic day in the Abel Tasman National Park. I took a lot of photos, so here is a selection of the most interesting.
Wanaka is a fun town in a beautiful setting. It was also our entry point to New Zealand’s wild, and famously wet, West Coast.
I previously wrote about the sobering but hopeful state of Christchurch. The next day we headed down State Highway 1 to Dunedin via the Moeraki Boulders. It was a another day of huge crashy-bashy surf, the boulders are mildly diverting but the coast is beautiful in its own right too.
From Dunedin we explored the Otago Peninsular and its Royal Albatross Centre. The fine weather meant the adult Royal Albatrosses were all out at sea hunting so I could only take photographs of the fluffy land-based chicks.
Photographs from our short stopover in Sydney.
Since the Autumn I have been taking more photographs of people than places. Through a Facebook advert I had seen that 36exp run bite-size evening workshops and I signed up for one on off-camera flash since the dark evenings had also resulted in me using my flashgun quite extensively.
The course was really fun and also my first experience of shooting with a professional model. This was quite intimidating at first, but Julie was very professional and it was a lot less stressful than when trying to get the perfect photo that family demand, but have little patience to achieve!
The first three photographs were all shot with a single light on to the camera’s right. I do not remember if the light was modified with a soft box or umbrella. One immediate thing I observed was that light stands need to be very high—we are used to seeing light shine down from a very high angle from both the sun and ceiling lights, so to achieve a natural look the light needs to be positioned above the model and angled down.
This shot introduced a second light onto the back of the model’s head to highlight her hair. I really like the effect of the hair light, but I am not sure it works well in this context.
These last two used a single light on the model and a second light to illuminate the background. While editing this collection I realised that filters and effects make a lot more sense for photographs where the subject is the main focus. With my travel photography I am aiming to capture the atmosphere I experienced, whereas here the entire scene is constructed at the direction of the photographer, and so it is very logical to continue the creative process into the darkroom.
As I previously wrote, Buenos Aires is more interesting than picturesque, but nonetheless provided some memorable images.
Our final day in the Atacama desert was a trip to experience dawn at the El Tatio Geyser field. The trip is timed like this because the hot steam from the boiling water erupting from the ground looks particularly impressive when it condenses in the 5ºC high altitude dawn air and the rising sun makes it even more majestic. The chill air was a bit of a shock to the system after the day time roasting we had received up until now, but it was a very impressive display of nature.
On the way home we made a pitstop at the remote Andean community of Machuca, and we were lucky enough to spot some indigenous wildlife.
Photographs from our second day trip in the beautiful Atacama Desert. This time we were saw flamingos, and learned that they get their distinctive pink colour from the algae they eat from foraging on the waterbed. After that our bus took us to 4120m above sea level to see a volcanic lake, spectacularly framed by snow and volcanoes. Our final two stops were in the pretty Andean villages of Socaire and Toconao, to sample some traditional local food.
The Atacama Desert had some out of this world scenery so this is the first of several albums of photographs. The name “Moon Valley” comes from the salt glaze left behind by evaporating water, but we were also treated to an almost-full moon hanging majestically above the surrounding volcanoes.